Traditions live on up North

August 4, 2008 at 3:18 pm | Posted in Scandinavia, Traditions | Leave a comment
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The Aftenposten in English it is being quite useful! Look at what I found:

Traditions live on up north

A traditional reindeer feast is a big part of Sami confirmations. PHOTO: OLE MAGNUS RAPP

Spring is busting out all over, and in the far north of Norway it’s accompanied by a wave of confirmations and weddings celebrated in traditional Sami style.

The past weekend unleashed what some observers call “the most beautiful fairy tales” of the season. It was wedding and confirmation time in Kautokeino and Masi, before the Sami people herd their reindeer from the vast inland areas of Finnmark to coastal grazing land.

Confirmations quickly turn into community events, and normally full local churches are packed to overflowing. Family members are given tickets, to be sure they get seats.

The event is a spectacle of bright colours, smiles, brilliant handicraft and serious expressions of the Christian faith.

The pastor speaks in Norwegian, which in turn is translated to the Sami language (Samisk). There are few if any shortcuts: Sami congregations sing all verses of the hymns, sermons are detailed and all those being confirmed are expected to come forward to take communion.

Months of preparations have taken place before the young Sami teenagers kneel in church, both religious and non-religious.

Special reindeer were slaughtered last fall, to feed guests at the parties that follow the church services. The reindeer skin has been well taken care of, and turned into trousers. Colourful, traditional dress is an important part of all Sami celebrations.

“Everything should be new, from the innermost to the outermost clothes,” said Berit Andersdatter Buljo Eira, mother one of the teenage girls being confirmed. “It’s best when the clothing is sewn by the parents, the grandparents or the godparents.”

She has sewn her daughter’s jacket and the family invested in the silver that goes with the traditional dress. Her mother, Gunnhild Sara Buljo, also contributed to the weaving and sewing that goes into the elaborate and colourful garments.

Her husband handpicked all the cloudberries (multe) served for dessert. Several hundred guests can show up at traditional Sami weddings and confirmations.

“Its important to have traditions,” said Berit Eira. “And we take care of them.”

Berit Andersdatter Buljo Eira (left) makes a final adjustment to her daughter’s traditional handsewn Sami dress before confirmation festivities begin.PHOTO: OLE MAGNUS RAPP

Sara Karen Elle Persdatter Eira admires the traditional wooden chest she received to hold her silver and other items to be used at an eventual wedding. PHOTO: OLE MAGNUS RAPP

Do you know other newspapers like this one? It is quite a good way to be aware of what is happening in the far north, right? At least in Norway. If you find other ones for Alaska, Russia, Canada… Let me know!

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Virtual exhibition “The Saami, becoming a nation”

July 27, 2008 at 9:22 pm | Posted in Education, Scandinavia | Leave a comment
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Some months ago, some friends sent me the link to a virtual exhibition about the Saami people organized by Norway. It is a very good idea, because with a virtual exhibition people of all over the world can learn a bit more about the Saami people, their land and their culture:



“Should the Sami ever experience having books written in their own language, having literature and art based on their national heritage, and cultural institutions that nurtured their folk art, fairy tales and language, it would be the beginning of a process – cultural, social, and economic – the extent of which cannot be perceived today”.

Per Fokstad, 1951

[…] Our presentation is not intended as a typical ’exhibition’ of physical objects. Rather, it is an attempt to present a process of social and cultural development now underway. We aim to show how individual Sami have – through their ideas, debates, and actions – created the forums and measures which have come over time to shape the form and content of Sapmi. We are particularly interested in where this ethnic awakening is directed culturally and ideologically in the new century. The Sami context is no longer limited to a local community; today, international connections and a world arena is no less important for the Sami future.

Thus, our presentation is not only meant as a corrective to the conventional philosophy and practice of museums, but also to provide the public with means to grasp the implications of the emergence of Sami nationhood as a creative, innovative and cumulative process – a virtual revolution in political and cultural terms within the span of some decades. Moreover, we want to make the audience aware that museum displays- like the old and the new exhibit here in Tromsø Museum – are not just ”facts”, but presentations reflecting the interests, motives and historical contexts of those who made them.

It is an interesting idea, isn’t it? Go and take a look if you feel curious!

Third step: Scandinavia

July 22, 2008 at 1:00 pm | Posted in Language, Maps, Naming, Scandinavia | Leave a comment
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I continue with the posts that place the Arctic circle cultures in the map thanks to Ethnologue website. The two previous ones were about Alaska and Canada on the one hand and Kalaallit Nunaat (Greenland) on the other. will include the Kola peninsula and the territories that border it to have all the Saami languages toghether. I think this will help understanding the family languages.

Finland

Republic of Finland, Suomen Tasavalta. 5,214,512. National or official languages: Finnish, Swedish. Literacy rate: 100%. Also includes English (4,500), Northern Kurdish (1,293), Polish, Romanian (1,000), Russian (10,000), Somali (3,103), Spanish, Standard German, Tatar (1,000), Turkish (1,000), Vietnamese, Arabic, Chinese. Information mainly from M. Stephens 1976; B. Comrie 1987; T. Salminen 1987–1998. Blind population: 3,345. Deaf population: 8,000 to 307,333 (1986 Gallaudet University). Deaf institutions: 44. The number of languages listed for Finland is 13. Of those, 12 are living languages and 1 is extinct.

Saami, North
[sme] 2,000 in Finland (1995 M. Krauss). Ethnic population: 3,500 (1995 M. Krauss). Utsjoki, Enontekio, and Sodankyla. Alternate names: Northern Lapp, Davvin, “Lapp”, Saame, Same. Dialects: Ruija, Torne, Sea Lappish. Classification: Uralic, Sami, Western, Northern

Saami, Skolt
[sms] 300 in Finland (1995 M. Krauss). Population total all countries: 320. Ethnic population: 500 in Finland (1995 M. Krauss). Northwest of Inari Saami. Also spoken in Russia (Europe). Alternate names: Skolt Lappish, Russian Lapp, “Lapp”, Saame, Same, Lopar, Kolta, Koltta. Classification: Uralic, Sami, Eastern

Norway

Kingdom of Norway, Kongeriket Norge. 4,574,560. National or official language: Norwegian. Literacy rate: 96% to 100%. Also includes Danish (12,000), English, Finnish (5,358), Northern Kurdish (3,000), Russian (3,000), Spanish (6,500), Swedish (21,000), Tibetan, Urdu, Vietnamese (99,000), Chinese (3,000), from Africa (7,000), from Pakistan (17,000). Information mainly from M. Stephens 1976; B. Comrie 1987; I. Hancock 1991; J. Hupli 1998; B. Winsa 1998. Blind population: 4,000 (1982 WCE). Deaf population: 4,000 to 261,618 (1998). Deaf institutions: 12. The number of languages listed for Norway is 11. Of those, all are living languages.

Saami, Lule
[smj] 500 in Norway (1995 M. Krauss). Ethnic population: 1,000 to 2,000 in Norway (1995 M. Krauss). 31,600 to 42,600 ethnic Sámi in Norway (1995). Tysfjord, Hamaroy, and Folden, Norway. Alternate names: Lule, Saame. Classification: Uralic, Sami, Western, Northern

Saami, North
[sme] 15,000 in Norway (1995 M. Krauss). Population total all countries: 21,000. Ethnic population: 30,000 to 40,000 in Norway (1995 M. Krauss). Finnmark, Troms, Nordland, Ofoten. Also spoken in Finland, Sweden. Alternate names: “Northern Lappish”, “Norwegian Lapp”, Saami, Same, Samic, “Lapp”, Northern Saami. Dialects: Ruija, Torne, Sea Lappish. Classification: Uralic, Sami, Western, Northern

Saami, Pite
[sje] Between Saltenfjord and Ranenfjord in Norway. Alternate names: “Lapp”, Pite. Classification: Uralic, Sami, Western, Northern Nearly extinct.

Saami, South
[sma] 300 in Norway (1995 M. Krauss). Ethnic population: 600 in Norway. Hatfjelldal and Wefsen, south to Elga. Alternate names: “Northern Lappish”, “Norwegian Lapp”, Saami, Same, Samic. Classification: Uralic, Sami, Western, Southern

Russia (Europe)

Komi-Zyrian
[kpv] 262,200 (1993 UBS). Ethnic population: 345,000. Komi ASSR, 60′ N. Lat., nearly to the Arctic Ocean. South of Yurak, west of the Vogul (Mansi) peoples. Capital is Syktywkar. Alternate names: Komi. Dialects: Yazva. Lexical similarity 80% with Komi-Permyak and Udmurt. Classification: Uralic, Permian, Komi

Saami, Akkala
[sia] 8 (2000 T. Salminen). Ethnic population: 100 (1995 M. Krauss). Southwest Kola Peninsula. Alternate names: Ahkkil, Babinsk, Babino. Dialects: Closest to Skolt. Classification: Uralic, Sami, Eastern Nearly extinct.

Saami, Kildin
[sjd] 800 (2000 T. Salminen). 1,900 Saami in Russia (1995 M. Krauss). Ethnic population: 1,000 (1995 M. Krauss). Alternate names: “Kildin Lappish”, “Lapp”, Saam, Saami. Classification: Uralic, Sami, Eastern

Saami, Skolt
[sms] 20 to 30 in Russia. Ethnic population: 400 in Russia (1995 M. Krauss). Northern and western Kola Peninsula around Petsamo. Alternate names: “Skolt Lappish”, “Russian Lapp”, “Lapp”, Saam, Lopar, Kolta, Skolt. Dialects: Notozer, Yokan. Classification: Uralic, Sami, Eastern

Saami, Ter
[sjt] 6 (1995 M. Krauss). Ethnic population: 400 population (2000 Salminen). Alternate names: “Ter Lappish”, “Lapp”, Saam. Classification: Uralic, Sami, Eastern Nearly extinct.

Sweden

Kingdom of Sweden, Konungariket Sverige. 8,986,400. National or official language: Swedish. Literacy rate: 99%. Also includes Amharic, Assyrian Neo-Aramaic, Chaldean Neo-Aramaic, Danish (35,000), Estonian (1,560), Greek (50,000), Kirmanjki, Latvian (450), Lithuanian (310), Northern Kurdish (10,000), Serbian (120,000), Somali, Spanish (35,000), Tosk Albanian (4,000), Turkish (20,000), Turoyo (20,000), Western Farsi (35,000), Chinese, people from Iraq (6,000), Eritrea, North Africa. Information mainly from B. Comrie 1987; I. Hancock 1991; E. Haugen 1992; O. Dahl 1996; B. Winsa 1998. Blind population: 15,716. Deaf population: 8,000 to 532,210 (1998). Deaf institutions: 72. The number of languages listed for Sweden is 15. Of those, all are living languages.

Saami, Lule
[smj] 1,500 in Sweden (1995 M. Krauss). Population total all countries: 2,000. Ethnic population: 6,000 in Sweden. Lapland along the Lule River in Gällivare and Jokkmokk. Also spoken in Norway. Alternate names: Lule, Saami, “Lapp”. Dialects: Lule Saami is quite distinct from other Saami. Classification: Uralic, Sami, Western, Northern

Saami, North
[sme] 4,000 in Sweden (1995 M. Krauss). Ethnic population: 5,000 in Sweden (1994 SIL). Karesuando and Jukkasjärvi. Alternate names: Norwegian Saami, “Lapp”, Saame, Same, Samic, Northern Lappish, Northern Saami. Dialects: Ruija, Torne, Sea Lappish. Classification: Uralic, Sami, Western, Northern

Saami, Pite
[sje] 20 in Sweden (2000 T. Salminen). Ethnic population: 2,000 in Sweden (1995 M. Krauss). Lapland along Pite River in Arjeplog and Arvidsjaur. Also spoken in Norway. Alternate names: Saami, “Lapp”, Pite. Classification: Uralic, Sami, Western, Northern Nearly extinct.

Saami, South
[sma] 300 in Sweden(1995 M. Krauss). Population total all countries: 600. Ethnic population: 600 in Sweden. Vilhelmina in Lapland, in Jämtland, Härjedalen, and Idre in Dalarna. Also spoken in Norway. Alternate names: “Lapp”, Southern Lapp. Classification: Uralic, Sami, Western, Southern

Saami, Ume
[sju] 20 (2000 T. Salminen). Ethnic population: 1,000 (1995 M. Krauss). Lycksele, Mala, Tärna, and Sorsele, along the Ume River. Probably no speakers in Norway. Alternate names: “Lapp”, Saami, Ume. Classification: Uralic, Sami, Southern Nearly extinct.

As you see, this classification is quite confusing, as the Saami languages are repeated in many countries. This is because the political borders, that cut the Saami lands. I will redo the classification in the future having as a starting point Sápmi and not those countries.

Anyway, you can also check the map to make the situation clearer:

Sámi Duodji

July 21, 2008 at 12:15 pm | Posted in Handicrafts, Scandinavia | 1 Comment
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When I was in Sweden last December, I traveled all the way to the arctic circle, to Sápmi (Lappland is the wrong name, remember!). One of my interests was to find out about their linguistic, cultural and social situation. And while searching that, I also discover the Sámi Duodji or Sámi handicrafts. It was a wonderful surprise, as they are the symbol of a millenarian culture. They are colorful and sober, and they combine utility and beauty. Wikipedia offers this definition for the Sámi Duodji:

Duodji, is a centuries old Sami handicraft, that dates back to a time when the Sami were far more isolated from the outside world than they are today. Duodji tools and clothing accoutrements served their purpose to be functional and useful, however this does not means that the Sami handicraft is unartistic. Sami doudji artist are able to bring function and art together in such a delicate way to create beautiful works of art in their own right.

These functional items include, knives, cases, ladies bags, wooden cups, certain articals of clothing, etc. Duodji items were made and meant to be used in an everyday work environment. Traditionally Sami handicraft was divided into two sub-groups, – men’s and women’s handicraft – men used mostly wood and antlers as well as other bones from reindeers when crafting, women used leather, and roots. The traditional Sami colours are red, green, blue and yellow.

I had the chance to visit a Sámi home, and saw some handicrafts and traditinal costumes. I asked to take pictures:


At least in Sweden, there is an association who brings together most of the Sámi artisans, to guarantee they authenticity of the products. Finding products with their certification label is a safe way to buy Sámi handicrafts, though if you are really interested on them the better thing you can do is to attend the Sámi Marknad, a winter fair that takes place in Jokkmokk every February and that is considered one of the most important Sámi events.

I was there in December so I could not assist, though I managed to buy some certified crafts and reindeer meat. If you are interested on the Sámi handcrafts but Sápmi is to far from your place, here you have some interesting links to contact Sámi artisans:

Árran: Sámi Artisans in North America
Sameslöjdstiftelsen: certified Sámi Duodji from Sweden.

First encounter with the Sámi people

March 10, 2008 at 12:50 am | Posted in Scandinavia | 1 Comment
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Before I came with the idea of the around-the-world journey, I was already interested in the situation of the Sámi, the indigenous people from Sápmi (wrongly named as Lapland), their land, that crosses Norway, Sweden, Finnish and the Kola peninsula in Russia. The story telling how I got interested on them is lond, and its origins are probably a bit unconscious, from some things I saw or read when I was a child. I will talk about it another day. But even now, I find fascinating that a nomade hunter-gatherer society still survives in Europe in the 21st century.

For that reason, the last december I visited them. With temperatures around 15 celsius degrees below zero and only three hours of daylight, it was probable that there were almost no tourists and it was easier for me to ask for the things I was looking for. Everything achieved from that trip was positive, much more than I had thought. In other posts I will write about everything I learned there; now, I just wanted to share some photos I brought back home.

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